With all the terrible indie hip-hop coming out nowadays, I figured I'd write a review for a rap group that actually has something to say. Although since this release Dead Prez has signed to a major label, changed a lot as people, and seen a decline in the quality of their music, it doesn't change the fact that Lets Get Free is one of the best rap albums out there.
A lot of you may have even heard Dead Prez before and not even known it; I've noticed that their '99 single "It's Bigger Than Hip Hop" is used as background music on "Chapelle Show" on at least a couple of episodes. Anyways, Dead Prez is two guys from Florida who are pissed as all fucking hell at just about everyone, but mostly white people. The opening track, "Wolves," is spoken word over a simple beat. It gives an analogy relating white people distributing crack in the black community to hunters in the Arctic who trick wolves into cutting themselves and bleeding themselves to death.
It's not all kill whitey though. Dead Prez is also pissed at the school system, the police, and the media. Sounds like punk rock to me. While sometimes the lyrics sound, well, a little dumb, they almost always have a strong, smart message. The lyrics of "They Schools" talk about how public schools don't teach people the things that they need to know. They only teach kids how to be obedient so that they can get a job for someone else, make money for someone else, and live in poverty. "Police State" is one of the standout tracks. Here's some of the first verse: "I want to be free to live, able to have what I need to live, bring the power back to the street, where the people live. We're sick of workin' for crumbs and fillin' up the prisons. Dying over money and relying on religion for help. We do for self like ants in a colony, organize the wealth into a socialist economy. A way of life based off the common need and all my comrades is ready, we're just spreading the seed."
I don't know about you, but I think that's a whole fuck of a lot better than the Gym Class Heroes composing a song of name-drops, especially when the names dropped are among the worst in independent and mainstream music. If I may go off on a tangent and leave Dead Prez for a moment...how the fuck did that band get signed? And who bought their record??? Okay, I've composed myself, back to Dead Prez.
You should have about a general idea of what Dead Prez is about by now, but I'll bet you wouldn't have guessed that they're vegans. In the song "Be Healthy," Dead Prez stress proper nutrition. It's supposed to serve as a wake-up call to everyone out there who's not eating properly, drinking too much, or putting anything in their bodies that just doesn't belong. Dead Prez stress a strict diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, tofu, lentils, and weed. Seriously, they think everyone should smoke weed. They even at one point rhyme "fresh squeezed juice from oranges" and "gangja." They pull this off by pronouncing oranges more like "awranjas." I think it works. Anways, they also warn against liquor, tap water, and improperly cooked food that may have lost some of its vitamins and minerals.
If I was reading this review, I would think this sounds like the greatest album ever. But then I would go out, buy the CD and hear the song "Mind Sex." At that point I'd realize it does have its faults. But find out for yourself and you will be pleased with the overall quality of this release.